If you love diving, a liveaboard is likely on your bucket list. After all, it is the ultimate diving holiday and allows you to explore places you would not be able to visit on a normal diving trip. You get to dive remote dive sites and spend several days on the boat surrounded by people that love diving just as much as you do. Therefore, liveaboards tend to be the perfect combination of dives, food, great people, sunsets, sunrise, and sunshine.
A liveaboard day usually consists of 3 to 4 dives a day including a night dive, several meals, and downtime, so it can be hard to know what to pack. Especially, as many liveaboards have a limit on how much you are allowed to bring onboard aside from your dive gear. After all, the cabin space is limited, so overpacking is not a good idea. Additionally, unlike on other vacations, there is no way to shop during the trip, so it is important to know what to pack for a liveaboard. That is why it is good to have a liveaboard packing list like this one.
In terms of scuba gear, you can rent gear, but it is always better to bring your own. After all, you know it and can be sure that it is in a good condition. You are used to diving with it and will therefore feel more comfortable underwater. Especially if you usually do not use a standard BCD and would have to do so during the liveaboard. In addition to that, it can be expensive to rent gear.
You will find a printable checklist freebie at the very bottom of this post, so be sure to grab it if you like this liveaboard packing list!
My first liveaboard was back in 2017 when I was an AOWD (Advanced Open Water Diver). I spend three days exploring the Great Barrier Reef with ProDive Cairns and loved every minute of it. When I booked my first liveaboard, the reservation email contained two sentences on what to bring. And let’s just say that I was not entirely sure what to pack for a liveaboard. I was in desperate need of a liveaboard packing list like this one, so I hope that this list helps you out if you are in the same situation.
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Liveaboard Packing List: Clothes
3 – 4 bikini, bathing suit, or shorts – It is best to avoid anything that ties in the back. Change your swimwear after a dive and avoid hanging out in wet swimwear. Doing so helps you avoid a rash and a UTI. Wash them in the sink and then let them dry in the sun. Just do not forget them there. I did and only remembered it a week later.
2 towels – Pack more if there are no towels in the cabin. Microfiber towels are best, as they dry fast and do not take up a lot of space in your luggage.
beach towel – Relaxing in the sun is amazing after a dive, so be sure to bring one.
hoodie or sweater – It is good to have something nice, warm, and cozy after a long day of diving. The AC in the cabins and indoor areas of the boats can be quite cold, so having this on your liveaboard packing list can help you avoid a cold.
flip flops or sandals – Most boats do not allow you to wear shoes on board, as they make it more likely that you will fall. However, it is good to have them as you board the boat and if you have the chance to explore a small island during the liveaboard.
2 sundresses – Or something else you can relax in while sitting in the sun. I usually go with sundresses as they are light and look nice at the same time. For me, it is the most convenient option.
2 – 3 tops or t-shirts – You cannot spend the entire time relaxing in swimwear, so be sure to pack some tops or shirts.
1 – 2 pairs of shorts or light trousers – Depending on the length of the liveaboard, you should pack one or two pairs of shorts or trousers.
hat or cap – If you plan to soak in the sun, it is always a good idea to wear a hat or cap. This way, you can avoid getting a sunstroke.
sleepwear – Keep in mind that it might be cold in the cabin. Therefore warmer sleepwear might be a good idea. How much to pack depends on how long the liveaboard is.
underwear – To keep it short: Do not forget to pack enough underwear.
cozy socks – The socks admittedly do not have to be cozy, but if your feet tend to be cold after diving, cozy socks are the best.
If you do not want to bring your own scuba gear, you should still bring the bare minimum of your own gear in the form of a mask and snorkel. After all, every single face is different, and we all know how hard it can be to find a mask that is perfect for our face. Chances are, that there will not be a mask on the boat that is perfect for you.
I certainly like having a second stage that allows me to adjust the ease of airflow myself, so diving with a rental regulator set that does not allow me to do so feels somewhat uncomfortable.
Be sure to wash your gear before you travel to your destination. Many countries like Australia and New Zealand have very strict import requirements and you might have a problem if your gear is not clean. Also, check if you have to use the red customs lane because they have to check your gear.
mask & masks strap cover – And potentially a spare mask. Especially if you have a mask with prescription lenses.
antifog – the boat usually has some kind of antifog spray, but bring your own if your eyes tend to tear up when you use a different antifog spray than your own. I love the antifog spray by Stream2Sea as it is reef-safe.
snorkel – Some places and liveaboards require that you have a snorkel while diving. Thankfully they usually allow you to detach it from your mask and to store it in your BCD pocket.
BCD – Be sure not to forget your inflator hose and the weight pockets if you have a BCD with an integrated weight system like the ScubaPro Hydros.
fins, boots, or socks – You will be diving a lot, so it might be good to wear socks even if you usually don’t. It will help avoid blisters.
wetsuit, rashguard, or drysuit with hose – Look up the water temperature ahead of the trip so you know which exposure gear to pack. Also, check if you should wear a rashguard while diving. Some places like the Great Barrier Reef tend to have a large number of jellyfish, which means you should never dive without a protective layer. Remember to pack your hood if you need it.
regulator – Check if you have to service it. Many countries have regulations on how often you have to service it and do not allow you to use it if you have exceeded the timeframe. Also, check if you need a Din to Yoke adaptor.
surface marker buoy (SMB) & reel – In my experience, it is usually a requirement during liveaboards, that every diver has an SMB. Be sure to brush up on your skill if it has been a while since you have used yours.
dive computer – Check if you have to replace the battery.
torch – Also pack extra batteries or the charger.
gloves – Depending on the water temperature, you might want to pack gloves. Just check if it is allowed to wear gloves at the dive sites, as some ban them to discourage divers from touching marine life.
reef hook – Having a reef hook can be crucial if you dive at dive sites with a very strong current. Please only ever attack it to rocks so you do not destroy corals.
compass – You might not need it, but it is always good to have one if you plan to do limited visibility or night dives. If you have one, you should definitely pack it.
spare kit – Be sure to bring some extra fin straps, o-rings, a wrench, and an extra mouthpiece. You do not want to have to cancel dives because your gear is defective.
trashbag – We all want a clean ocean, so every single diver should pick up trash underwater. That is why the trshbg hip bags are so great. They do not hinder you as you dive and allow you to turn every single dive into a mini ocean clean-up.
Electronics Liveaboard Packing List
camera and equipment – Even if you have a rather simple underwater camera like a GoPro or an Olympus TG6, you likely also have some equipment. So, ensure that you pack the underwater housing for greater depths, the housing cover to avoid scratches, and spare o-rings and lube. Also, pack all camera-related chargers and enough SD cards. If you have a more professional setup, you should not forget to pack your strobes, the tray, the dome, and whatever else you tend to use.
phone and charger – There is no way to know if you will have any signal at all, but at the very least you can use it to take some quick snapshots.
laptop – Bringing a laptop is not a strict necessity, but if you have one, you and others can check out your photos and videos in the evening. This was actually my favorite time of the day aside from the dives. It is great to sit together and to identify the fish all of you saw during the dive. If you do not know anyone else on the boat and are an introvert, it is a great way to connect with others. While watching the photos, everyone will be sharing diving stories in no time at all.
universal adapter – Check if you need a universal adaptor. You do not want to realize that you cannot charge your electronics because you do not have one.
extension cord or power bar – The sockets in the cabin are not always in the best position, so having an extension card is always a good idea. Ask the boat crew if it is okay to use a power bar and never connect one power bar to another when on a liveaboard. It is an extreme safety hazard.
Cosmetics to pack for a Liveaboard
sunscreen – Be sure to choose a reef-safe one like the Stream2Sea sunscreen or Badger Clear Zinc.
shampoo – You will be spending a lot of time in saltwater, so opt for an aftersun shampoo if you have long hair.
conditioner or coconut oil – Coconut oil and conditioner help prevent damaged hair due to the sun and salt.
soap bar – Soap bars are more sustainable as they do not have plastic packaging and tend to be lighter and smaller. Therefore, they are the best option when you pack for a liveaboard.
moisturizer – Your skin tends to get dry due to the sun and saltwater, so pack a natural moisturizer.
deodorant – You might spend a lot of time in the water, but most liveaboard locations tend to be hot. Therefore, deodorant is a very good addition to your liveaboard packing list. Be sure to shop for a natural one so no chemical components enter the ocean with you.
lip balm – You do not want dry lips while diving, so do not forget to pack lip balm. And yes, that also applies to men.
toothbrush and toothpaste – There might be cleaning stations underwater where fish clean other marine animals, but sadly we as scuba divers are not amongst those. So pack your toothbrush and toothpaste if you have no plans to grow gills so fish could clean your mouth for you.
aloe vera gel – Maybe it is due to having lived in Australia, but I believe that aloe vera gel is best if you have a mild to severe sunburn.
mosquito spray – I know that many people opt for chemical versions but based on my experience lemon spray and mint spray work perfectly fine while being better for the environment.
hair ties – If you need them, you know that they tend to disappear, so be sure to bring enough.
contact lenses and glasses
You do not have to bring a full pharmacy as all liveaboard boats have a first aid kit and some medication, but there are some things that should be on your liveaboard packing list. Please check if you are allowed to take any of the medication on this list to avoid conflicts with prescription medication. Ultimately, I cannot give you any medical advice and am merely listing what medication I usually pack when going on a liveaboard.
prescription medication – They are obviously the most important medication to pack, so do not forget them. Check if you need an official letter and the prescription from your doctors so you do not encounter issues when you enter a country with them. Some countries do not allow you to bring certain medications without an explicit reason. Do your research to avoid issues.
seasickness tablets – Most if not all liveaboards sell them, but it is always cheaper to have your own. And if the sea is especially rough, they might even run out. Even pack them if you usually do not get sick. I have seen an entire boat crew get seasick while leaving the harbor, so trust me when I say that it can happen to everyone.
magnesium – Magnesium helps avoid cramps, so it is usually good to take some magnesium tablets during a liveaboard.
decongestant – Please remember to only take it at night or after your last dive of the day. It is never good to take it before diving.
ear drops – Use them in the evening to decrease the chance of getting an ear infection.
cortisone or something similar – It helps against rashes.
waterproof band-aids – There are some wounds that should not get in contact with salt water, so having some waterproof band-aids is a good idea. I once had to cancel some planned dives in Indonesia as I could not find any.
antihistamines – You never know if you will have an allergic reaction, so pack them just to be on the safe side.
painkillers – You never know if you end up needing them, and it is best to bring your own if you know which ones work best for you. Just be sure not to take them before diving if they could make you feel dizzy or tired. It is not worth the risk.
There are several documents that are a must on your liveaboard packing list.
passport – If you are traveling within your own country, you might not need it, but it is always a good idea to have an official ID on you.
visa – Be sure to check if you need a visa to travel to the departure destination of your liveaboard. You do not want to be forced to cancel your trip because you forgot to obtain one.
vaccination pass – If you want to enter certain countries after having been in a yellow-fever region, you might need proof of a yellow-fever vaccination. The WHO has a list of international vaccination requirements, so take a look at it.
insurance card – Bring the insurance cards of your travel insurance and dive insurance (DAN or others), so you do have all the information you need in case you have to contact them.
certification cards – Bring all relevant certification cards if they are not digital. In most cases, you will want to bring your highest certification card, your Nitrox certification, and your depth and wreck diving certification if there are specific dives included in the liveaboard itinerary.
logbook – Like the certification card, your logbook might be digital, but if it is not, you should bring it. After all, it is proof of your number of dives and where you write down your notes about the dives you do during the liveaboard.
health form – Do not forget to have your doctor fill out your health form if you have any preconditions that you would have to list on the diving self-disclosure form. If you have to list a medical condition and fail to do so, you will likely lose your insurance cover in case something happens. Do yourself a favor and do not risk it.
Other important Things on your Liveaboard Packing List
sunglasses – Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes, as they block bright, reflected light. So be sure that your sunglasses are polarized so you can enjoy the sun without damaging your eyes.
snacks – Everyone has a favorite snack, so be sure to pack yours. A lot of people tend to share the snacks they bring, so bring enough to do the same. As you try the snacks others brought aboard, you might even discover a new favorite snack!
card game – Bring a simple card game or even cards against humanity for some simple fun during surface breaks or in the evening.
earplugs and a sleep mask – It can be quite loud if the ship drives to a new position at night, so having earplugs is a good idea. And if you want to take a nap during the day, a sleep mask is great.
cash – Without cash, you cannot tip the boat crew at the end of the trip, so be sure to have enough on you.
drybag – A drybag is great to keep your documents dry while on the ship and is really useful if your liveaboard schedule includes island trips. I tend to store my passport, wallet, and other valuables in there when you get on or off the boat.
Freebie: Liveaboard Packing List
What to Pack for a Liveaboard?
Did this liveaboard packing list mention anything you would not have remembered?
I, for one, did not know to pack everything on this list when I went on my first liveaboard. I still had a great time, but having a card game and seasickness tablets sure would have been nice. I still had a great time, but looking back it sure would have been easier if I had packed with a detailed list.
Therefore, I really hope that this liveaboard packing list will help you!
If you love scuba diving, these might be useful to you:
Diving in Gran Canaria
Diving in Hurghada: Red Sea
Is a liveaboard on your list of Scuba Diving Dream Trips?
Let me know in the comments down below!
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